The UK government pledged nearly £2 billion to upgrade roads and railways and fill “millions of dangerous potholes” so that the public transport does not get overwhelmed once lockdown ends. At the Downing Street press briefing on May 14, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that the government is putting in efforts to level up infrastructure and get the transport infrastructure in the best possible shape to support country’s economic recovery.
The package, which is existing money and being streamlined, includes £1.7 billion to improve local roads to making journeys of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers smoother across England. £175 million has been allocated for fast-tracked construction works to ensure vital repairs while fewer passengers are using the transport system.
"This investment will help fix the damage caused by the winter flooding, repair roads and bridges and fund numerous road improvement schemes,” said Shapps during the press conference.
The Conservative leader said the government will be also building a network of rapid charging stations for electric cars to lock in the air quality improvements witnessed during the coronavirus lockdown. He added that the UK has been able to complete things faster than usual due to the lockdown like building new hospitals, moving public services online and making instant reforms.
Highlighting the “bureaucratic bindweed”, Shapps said that there is a need to examine what makes British infrastructure some of the costliest and slowest in Europe to build. He asserted that the UK must exploit its newfound capacity to respond at pace and apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure.
“Now, we want to ensure that we can maintain this momentum - if building a new hospital takes just two weeks, why should building a new road still take as long as 20 years?” said Shapps.
Earlier, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak had said that country is facing a ‘significant recession’ after the Statistics Office reported that the British economy contracted by 2 per cent in the first three months of the year 2020. According to the report, all the headline sectors provided a negative contribution to GDP growth in the three months to March 2020.